Nov 16, 2017

Meet the Stay Woke Mitts. This design was my contribution to Join Hands, an ebook collaboration with seven other designer friends of mine to benefit the ACLU and the SPLC.

All proceeds from the ebook will be split evenly between the two charities. So far we've raised over $2K! I can hardly believe it. Check out Emma Welford's Instagram where she is also auctioning Leigh Miller's sample for her “Love More" mittens from the ebook, as an additional part of this fundraiser.

I was inspired to design these mittens after some very upsetting political events that happened earlier this year. I was especially dismayed by the travel ban which put some close friends of mine in a heartbreaking position. Rather than feeling helpless, I decided to take action using my only super power, knitwear design!

Complacency is the enemy of progress; the words and symbols knitted into these mitts serve as reminders of this profound message. The phrase “stay woke" has become a rally cry for the social justice-minded, and particularly for matters of racial injustice. We must keep our eyes open, and stay focused on the issues that are important. The pyramid symbol depicted on the mitts is called the “all-seeing eye of providence", and in this context also represents the importance of maintaining awareness —seeing the hidden, being aware of the whole story. This symbol has been associated with the United States seal since 1776, and connects this modern message to the core issues this country has been wrestling with since it was formed. Meditate on this message as you knit these mitts, and let them inspire you to make a difference.

Nov 11, 2017

Homage has launched! It's hard to describe the feeling of launching a book. It's part excitement, part relief, part anxiety that someone is going to discover some egregious error that I somehow overlooked despite round after round of exhaustive editing, but mostly, I'm just plain proud. I'm proud of all my books, but this one is something special.

At one point in my life, I thought I wanted to be a portrait artist—there are even a few of my older works still out there, and I occasionally get orders for prints. I went to art school and studied painting and pottery (which inspired my last book), and incidentally I also minored in art history. I wasn't really trying for a minor, since I already had a dual focus in my studio arts studies, but I just kept signing up for those art history classes! I remember at the time, not really loving all the reading that was required for those classes, but I also saw the value in exposing myself to as much art as possible. I have always loved looking at art.

Homage features five new patterns, each drawing inspiration from an influential female artist—Agnes Martin, Maya Angelou, Otti Berger, Hilla Becher, and Georgia O'keeffe. These women had different paths through their artistic careers, but they all offer something that has seeped into my aesthetic vocabulary. I'm so proud to share this collection with the world, because like a Maya Angelou poem, it reveals my insides to the world in the best way I know how, through yarn.

Now that Homage has launched, it's time to announce the winners of my pre-order promotion! Congratulations to Jamie, Kelly, and Esther who all won yarn to knit one of the sweaters from this new collection. Thanks to all you wonderful folks who pre-ordered the book. I actually sold out of my stock in the first 24 hours after the launch, which was quite unexpected! I still have more yarn to give away, so I'm planning another giveaway at the end of the month (more on that very soon).

The launch party at String Thing Studio was tons of fun! Despite the Nor'easter raging outside, plenty of people showed up to celebrate. Thanks to everyone who braved that torrential rain—you folks are some real badass die-hards! I have an extensive trunk show still going on at String Thing Studio until November 30. I hope you'll come by to check out the show, and pick up your copy of Homage.

Nov 6, 2017

Every time I go to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, I leave with a full heart and sense of overwhelming gratitude. Spending time with other designers, meeting passionate enthusiastic knitters, petting the sheep, and talking with farmers and producers—all reminds me that I'm part of a big wonderful community. Every year feels like a warm fuzzy reunion, but this year seemed especially good, and just at the moment when I was starting to wonder why I'm doing this crazy job.

[Cue the violin music]

Leading up to the festival, I had been working day and night putting the finishing touches on Homage, Knit Darling Book 2. I had a hard deadline to get my final files to the printer—the same day I was leaving town for Rhinebeck—and the same day I was set to start taking pre-orders.

For weeks I had been working 16+ hour days, squeezing every spare minute trying to make this book perfect. I sent my final files just after 1am the night before my deadline. The next morning I got up at 6:30, sent out an email announcement and started taking preorders. I also had to go work at my day job. I was already late for work, and hadn't even started packing for Rhinebeck. Then, almost immediately after sending the big announcement to my rather large mailing list, something broke on my website. This sent me into total freak-out mode and my poor web-programmer (aka husband) had to scramble to figure it out. I have nightmares that go something like that.

And then suddenly, so perfectly, everything was resolved. I somehow packed my bag in like, 2 seconds (more on that later), Brian fixed my website, and I was on my way to work. Pre-orders were coming in, and I remembered why I do this—it's for you guys!

That afternoon, I met up with my knitwear designer friend, Dianna Walla, and boarded a train to Rhinebeck where we met our other knitwear designer friend Beatrice Perron Dahlen. Then we drove to the most perfect beautiful house that we had rented for the weekend. We poured some wine, and Bea made us a delicious dinner. And the next morning we woke up and knitted with our coffee in the sunshine. Perfection.

The next day at the festival, I was absolutely giddy. I met some seriously amazing people, and I think I said some coherent things to them.

[ Pictured above: Beatrice Perron Dahlen, Dianna Walla, Karen Templer, Jessica Forbes, Ysolda Teague, Emily Greene, The Sundance Kid, and Megan Williams]

I also met some seriously amazing yarn!

Meet my new pile of luscious Magpie. I now have a sweaters quantity of Magpie's gorgeous Domestic Worsted thanks to the encouragement of Magpie owner Dami Hunter, and also due to some serious peer pressure from one of my designer idols Amy Christoffers who literally stacked most of these skeins into my arms and told me I had to. How could I argue with that?

I also picked up some Magpie Swanky Sock and Solstice on my own volition because they were just too delicious to put down.

I'm so excited about this absolutely amazing skein of Tidal Yarns I bought. I know it looks like a messy pile of gray yarn, but trust me, it's special stuff. It's rustic, and bouncy, and somehow still quite soft. I also picked up some beautiful skeins of YOTH Daughter and Best Friend. I've been hearing people rave about YOTH yarn, so I wanted to see what all the fuss is about.

I wasn't sure how I was going to get all this home from the festival because I had done such a terrible packing job in the first place, almost entirely filling my small bag with unnecessary shoes and WAY too many pants. Fortunately, I also picked up this super cool tote bag from Fringe Supply Co., which saved me from hauling this yarn home in a trash bag on the train. I just love all the cute illustrations. I already caught a gawker on the subway trying to read all the little notes.

Speaking of huge quantities of yarn—there is only 1 more day to pre-order my new book, Homage. Pre-order the book or ebook and you could win free yarn to knit your favorite design from the collection!

It's been pretty quiet around the Knit Darling blog lately, but I have an excellent reason—Knit Darling Book 2 is almost done! The book is titled Homage, and features five gorgeous new patterns inspired by Modernist art and design—each piece honoring a different pioneering female artist from history.

I am taking pre-orders now for the ebook and printed book, and have some special promos for all you early-birds! Buy your copy before November 7, 2017 (the official release date) and you can enter to win yarn for the project of your choice (3 winners will be selected). I'm also offering free shipping on the softcover book for pre-orders only.

I'm so excited to share this new project with you! Below are some pics from the book and links that have more info about each design. I also have a series of blog posts planned over the coming weeks examining each of the new designs, and some of the special techniques used in the patterns.

Above is a picture of the cover, featuring my new Otti Kimono Cardigan--one of my favorites from the collection.

Okeeffe Shawl

Angelou Cardigan

Martin Pullover

Hilla Hat

I'd like to give a special thanks to all the yarn companies who generously agreed to help me with my yarn giveaway promotion.

I have been selling my Caring Cowl pattern as a fundraiser for the American Red Cross since 2011. In that time, I have raised and donated $1,875.00! This is a stat that I very proud of—but really all the credit goes to the wonderful folks who purchased the pattern, so thank YOU!

I am delighted to announce that Laura over at is hosting a knit-along featuring my Caring Cowl pattern starting today. She will be giving away some prizes at the end including a free pattern from my Ravelry Shop. I hope you will join the fun, and knit for a good cause.

All this attention inspired me to give this old pattern a bit of a facelift. I added some fresh new photos and updated the pdf to include useful web links to video tutorials and the FAQ page. If you purchased this pattern in the past, you should have received a link to download the updated version in your email.

It was kind of weird to compare pictures of myself from now and from 2011. I definitely look a little older, but in a good way, I think! This was my third revamp of this pattern. While the original pattern worked just fine, it's important to me that I continually try to offer a better product if I have the ability to do so. I'm very proud of all my patterns, but especially this one!

It's finally feeling like Autumn here in Brooklyn, so it's the perfect time to talk about some of my latest patterns featured in a new book titled "The Knitted Hat Book", from Interweave Press.

With 20 fresh new hat designs from a long list of great designers, this book has a little something for everyone. Let me tell you about my own designs featured in the book:

The Duality Watch Cap

This striped unisex hat was designed using two strands of Berroco's Ultra Alpaca Fine yarn held together to create an interesting marled texture effect. I like to wear this hat kind of slouchy, but it looks equally cool with the brim folded up. The fabric is fairly dense, making this a great hardwearing winter piece. I made one as a Christmas gift for my brother-in-law who lives in Chicago, and he loved it. This hat actually inspired my Dolo Mitts pattern and coordinates perfectly.

Here I'm wearing one of my favorite outfits this fall, Escher Cardigan, Duality Watch Cap, and Dolo Mitts. I somehow compelled my dear friend and sometimes photographer Erika Rose to get on the other side of the camera for the picture above. She strongly resists that sort of thing but I think she looks super cool in my Frolic Hat!

Frolic Paper Bag Hat

This interesting hat features an exaggerated drawstring closure at the top, making the gathers into a textural design feature. In the book, they photographed it as a hat to wear with a ponytail, which is actually not something I considered when I created this design, but it works. I love this hat as a lightweight transitional accessory that is comfortable to wear inside as a fashion piece, or outside when it's not quite so cold yet. This pattern is pretty easy, and I would recommend it for beginners or as an enjoyable quick project for any skill level. I used Quince & Co. Finch yarn which has a super crisp look, perfect for this design.

Blossom Appliquéd Hat

This show stopping hat is a vintage inspired piece that prominently features a beautiful 3D flowering vine motif. The hat is worked in bulky yarn, making it a super fast knit. The decorative elements are knitted separately, and sewn onto the hat at the end. While you could theoretically work the floral vine elements in a different color, I love how a monotone palette really accentuates the rich textures, and keeps this piece elegantly timeless. I chose The Plucky Knitter Bulky yarn for this design, and it's absolutely divine.

The book features several other hats that I adore. My friend, Annie Rowden, has a couple super-wearable designs in the book, Locality and Squall, that are definitely worth checking out. I also loved Robin Ulrich's Revolve hat design, featured on the cover.

Heres a link with my affiliate code attached. I hope you will pick up a copy! Any of the projects in this book would make a great handmade holiday gift, and though it's hard to believe, it's just about that time again!

Oct 23, 2016

The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival (nicknamed 'Rhinebeck' because of the location) is without a doubt the most inspiring event that I attend every year. This year, I had the pleasure of attending with four fellow designer friends, Melynda Bernardi (French Press Knits), Beatrice Perron Dahlen (Thread & Ladle), Annie Rowden (byannieclaire), and Andrea Mowery (Drearaeknits) with her adorable little sidekick -- pictured from right to left.

We shared an Airbnb house near the festival, and snapped this pic right before heading out. Everyone is wearing one of their own designs, and they were all so lovely!

I had a truly wonderful time walking around with these ladies and meeting people that previously I had only known from the Internet. We also spent a great deal of time sitting and knitting, which was really fun too. We swapped stories about our adventures in knitwear design and our lives on opposite corners of the country. It was really interesting to get a glimpse into their worlds. Though we all share the same profession, the way everyone works is so individual. I felt like it gave me a little perspective so I can appreciate my own situation in a different light. I often fear that having kids might compromise my knitwear design career and it's really held me back from starting a family, but seeing all these women thrive while caring for their small children encouraged me. I can see that it's very difficult, but not impossible. I was so inspired by these amazing women making it happen!

Though you might expect that my favorite part of Rhinebeck is the fabulous yarn shopping, you'd be wrong. No, what I really love is the people watching, or more specifically, the sweater watching. It's so fun to see all those proud knitters strut their stuff. One of the highlights for me was when I ran into Shanna (Foxedknits) wearing my Reine Cardigan design from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People Vol. 3. She did such a beautiful job—it really made my day! I practically tackled her when she walked by so I could get this picture.

Unfortunately I did not finish my own Rhinebeck sweater in time, but I didn't stress about it much because I have plenty of others to wear! In the picture above, I'm wearing the Tiber Cardigan from my Speckle and Stone collection. This is one of my all time favorites, so I was very glad to show it off a little. That unfinished sweater is nearly done now, so maybe it will make an appearance next year.

Here's a picture of my favorite goat I met at the festival. Sometimes when I need my bangs trimmed, I feel like this guy.

At first glance my Arno Pullover may look rather ordinary, but it is actually a very special design that truly deserves a closer look.

What makes this sweater so special is it's innovative construction. The set-in style sleeve cap and shoulder are worked simultaneously, seamlessly, and from the top-down. In other words, absolutely no sewing or grafting is required!! It's practically fail-proof and comes out beautifully every time.

I always loved the look of a set-in sleeve cap, so I challenged myself to devise a new way to knit this style that requires no sewing whatsoever. The math was a bit of a marvel, but I eventually figured it out and used the construction for the first time for the Rook Pullover in my book Graphic Knits (which I blogged about here).

To help you wrap your head around this unique construction, I drew a little illustration to show how the modular pieces all come together:

1. The back shoulder piece is worked from neck to mid-shoulder area.
2. Front shoulder pieces added to back piece; neck edge shaped.
3. Stitches for sleeve caps are picked-up; all pieces joined in the round.
4. Series of increases shape sleeve cap and shoulders.
5.-6. Stitches divided for body and sleeves; worked from top-down for easy length adjustments.

Here's a work-in-progress picture at the end of step 4 to give you a sense of how nicely the shoulders come together, even before blocking:

(warning: knitwear designer rant in 3, 2, 1...)

I have never designed a sweater with set-in sleeves and flat pieced construction. To me, the success of that kind of construction seems to rely too much on the knitter's hand-sewing skills, which can vary widely. We're all knitters here, but very few of us have the skills of a tailor.

That is why I find it a little confounding when I read a knitting pattern that is so clearly and perfectly written right up to the very last sentence: “block and sew pieces together." Ha! Really? Way to leave us in the lurch! Why do designers assume that a majority of knitters possess the skills necessary to perfectly set-in a fitted sleeve to a bodice with no additional guidance, while they so carefully specify details like SSK vs. K2tog decreases to shape the very same areas that are being sewn? Even as an expert seamstress, it took me years to master seaming on knits because the two skills are actually very different.

This is one of the main reasons why I always look for ways to take sewing out of the equation in my knitting patterns. I'm something of a knitting purist in that way. One of the most important goals in my independent design work is to create patterns with the clearest instructions possible to ensure a high success rate for my knitters' projects. If I can't clearly explain a technique, I simply won't include it in my design.

(end rant)

After I designed Rook and then later Brewster, both with this new shoulder construction, and both featuring Fair Isle colorwork patterning, I received numerous requests to create another design with plainer styling. With this in mind, Arno was at the top of my list to include in my Speckle & Stone collection.

To add extra interest to this design, I included a color block section around the shoulders highlighting the garment's unusual construction. I also used two strands of contrasting yarn held together, creating an interesting marled texture effect that coordinates nicely with the rest of my Speckle & Stone collection. Here's my original concept sketch:

The novel way that this design comes together makes this pattern so much fun to knit. I hate giving away a good ending, but it's probably no surprise—when you finish knitting this pattern you're simply done. No pinning, no sewing, just weave in the ends and voila!

The sweater fits beautifully, and I can hardly wait to see pictures of everyone's projects on Ravelry. The pattern is available as an individual pdf ($6), or in the Speckle & Stone ebook or printed book ($15; $20). I think if I make another, I will make it either blush/cream or black/gray. What colors would you use? Do you like the marled texture, or would you knit it plain with solid colors of yarn? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

The marvelous Mezzo cardigan is the most fun-to-wear piece from my new collection, Speckle and Stone. Every time I put it on I feel a little bit fabulous, partly because it's a compliment-generating head-turner, but also because it's so cozy and comfortable that I feel like I'm getting away with something.

The back view is really the highlight of this design. Notice the subtle raglan shaping on the back of the shoulders—a wonderful little detail that helps keep this billowy garment from slipping off the shoulders.

I was inspired to design Mezzo shortly after releasing my Escher Cardigan. Escher has a similar silhouette, but a much more complicated design worked in fingering weight yarn, which means it took FOREVER to make. I wanted to take another stab at a garment like Escher, but this time make it more of a quick gratification project—and it sure was! While the Escher sample took a few months to make, the Mezzo cardigan only took 4 DAYS to knit. I know! I was pretty surprised too.

Mezzo might seem gigantic, but because it's worked in two pieces, the knitting is totally manageable. The cardigan has a seam that runs down the center of the back, and another seam from the cuffs to the lower hem. I absolutely loved this special construction, and wanted to highlight it with big bold blocks of color. All the blocks perfectly align from front to back, and over the shoulders, which makes my little designer heart sing. All this comes together to make Mezzo a really dynamic piece. It was so much fun picking out colors!

I love how much the sample reminds me of this little bowl I made around the same point in time. I wasn't trying to make a coordinating bowl to go with my sweater, but I guess I was just in a blue/cream/earthy/speckly kind of mood. You never know how inspiration will strike!

3 of the 5 designs from my Speckle and Stone collection feature a marled texture that comes from holding two strands of contrasting yarn together. The Mezzo cardigan was the first I designed with that texture and it really helped set the mood for the remaining pieces. Since the dimensions of this garment were going to be pretty big, I wanted to use a larger gauge, but I was afraid a chunky yarn would weigh the garment down too much.

I had been experimenting with this marled effect and noticed how pretty and flat my loose-gauge swatches became after blocking. The two strands end up lying next to each other, making a thin but relatively dense fabric that knits up at almost a chunky yarn gauge, but without all the bulk. The resulting fabric also has incredible drape, which was something I was looking for. I decided one of the strands should be fingering, and the other should be DK, because the combination landed me at the perfect gauge and fabric weight.

Of course there's no reason you couldn't substitute a single strand of worsted weight yarn if you achieved the same gauge. The fabric would probably behave a little differently, but the garment would look pretty much the same.

My darling mother has already put this design in her knitting queue, but instead of a contrasting strand of cream, she is going to use a metallic yarn. I think this is a very clever idea, and I can hardly wait to see how it turns out. I also think this design would look stunning worked in a gradient yarn like one of the Freia Ombré yarns.

Speaking of yarn, if you decide to knit this cardigan, you will very likely have some leftover bits and bobs. Not to worry, I've got you covered, because my Brenta Hat, was designed to use up the leftover yarn from Mezzo. I'm planning another blog post about that pattern soon, so stay tuned.

I've been wearing my Mezzo Cardigan every opportunity I get. I hope you'll check out the pattern and knit one for yourself as well. I'd really love to hear what you think about Mezzo in the comments below. Would you change up the colors? Have a question about sizing? How do you feel about open front cardigans?

The dazzling Tiber Cardigan is one of the coolest looking, and definitely most challenging designs from my new collection, Speckle and Stone. It's also the most important piece because it helped set the tone and created focus for the entire project.

The idea started more than a year ago when I created my Chrysler Cardigan, and if you check out that design you can definitely see some similarities in the silhouette and yoke-style shoulder construction. Figuring out that shoulder construction was not easy, so I was really excited to put my hard work to use again. Here's my original sketch for Tiber. It turned out pretty well, I think!

One of the hurdles to beginning any new design is picking the yarn. I had a particularly difficult time picking colors for this design. Below are a few options I considered before settling on black and linen gray—the most sophisticated option and probably the most obvious in retrospect if you consider my inspiration (more on that below).

I began working on Tiber last May, just before my big 10-year wedding anniversary trip to Italy. We planned to make our way from Rome to Milan by train over the course of 9 days—very romantic, so naturally I thought I needed something entertaining to fill all the hours of downtime.

I don't know why I thought I would be bored on the train. News flash: Italy is breathtakingly beautiful! Also, I got pretty swept up in the whole romance thing. All I wanted to do on the train was look out of the window, sigh, and think of sappy things to say to my sweet wonderful husband. I did a little knitting but didn't make much progress until the return flight, where I proceeded to knit for about 7 hours straight…. and still only completed about 6" of the body.

This sweater felt like it took forever. I normally budget about 4-6 weeks to complete a typical sweater (I also have a full time day job to work around), but this sweater took about 4 months. To put that in perspective, the rest of the collection (4 more pieces) took just 2 months for me to complete.

I don't mean to scare you if you're thinking of knitting this. I definitely could have gone faster, but truthfully I wasn't very worried about how much time this project would take. This is definitely one of the luxuries of self publishing. I knew I wanted to release the collection sometime in the fall, but you know, it was only May, or only June, or only July. No big deal. I gave myself the whole summer to complete the sample, and I took my sweet time.

Of course with all that colorwork, it wasn't exactly a surprise that Tiber would take a while to complete, which is why I chose a fun easy-to-memorize pattern. I originally dreamt up the patterning as a motif to decorate a vase I was designing for my pottery class.

The vase never came into existence, but nonetheless pottery ideas and sweater ideas started mixing with inspiration images of abstracted geometric motifs on pueblo pottery and the magnificently decorated Italian duomos I was researching for my big trip. The result was my Tiber Cardigan. Don't you just love the meandering path of creativity?

I could not be more proud of this design! It was a pretty big challenge to figure it out, but worth all the effort because it might be the prettiest thing I've ever made. Every time I look at that tapering motif on the back of the shoulders, my heart sings! I don't even care how cheesy that sounds; just look at that thing.

I love hearing from you so if you like this design, please let me know in the comments below. What colors would you pick for your Tiber? Are you afraid to try steeking? What, YES?! Well, you probably haven't seen my brand new steeking tutorial video then. Stay tuned because I have a great post planned on that later...

For more information about this design, visit the pattern page here.